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A small window into our minds and how this blog continues to develop. We have a whole bunch of ideas up our sleeves and every now and then, we take them out and polish them off and introduce them at the gates of the city…

It can look like this text-exchange from last night:

Vera: Wanna start doing, once a week, cool (female) world actor of the week?

Sophia: That has to go in the Parking lot…and I think we need a hook of sorts. But yes. Katharine Hepburn is first 🙂

Vera: Haha. I was thinking more along the lines of Joyce Banda (Malawi’s new pres) and such

Sophia: Haha! Makes so much more sense… ‘actor’ as in Political Operative

Vera: Yes 😛

So — stay tuned for the new series on female political operatives (yes yes, Shakespeare was right and “All the world’s a stage” but I think ‘operative’ is better term than actor. But that is splitting hair). It’s going to be exciting, and we are going to be featuring women who doing all sorts of things, not just running countries. Like Victoria Neuland and Helga Schmid (both ladies have previously been featured in our posts).

Sadly, this means that Katharine Hepburn is not going to be in the series. Except on a meta-level…

For example, I invite you to have a look at this clip from Hepburn’s film “Woman of the Year” (1942).


First of all, I’d like her to run my country. But more to the point: The director is coaxing the viewer’s attention to Spencer Tracy’s silly fooling around. I am not amused by that, I am in fact annoyed since Hepburn’s character is delivering a very poignant speech about women in politics. Try to close your eyes and just listen. I saw this film growing up, and after reading Emmeline Pankhurst’s seminal speech from her tour in America in 1913, this scene reminds me of Pankhurst. The speech is referred to as “Freedom or Death” because of this quote:

You have left it to women in your land, the men of all civilised countries have left it to women, to work out their own salvation. That is the way in which we women of England are doing. Human life for us is sacred, but we say if any life is to be sacrificed it shall be ours; we won’t do it ourselves, but we will put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death.

My association between history and fiction was mainly based on the fascinating fact that Pankhurst addresses Mrs. Hepburn several times – the Hepburn in question is Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn, one of the central American feminist. She is also the mum of Katharine Hepburn – the actress we love and adore (I don’t know why mother and daughter have the same names).

I just realised that above I was writing and assuming everyone knows who Emmeline Pankhurst is. If you don’t – then you can read this short introduction to Pankhurt’s speech. It’s an excellent appetizer to dive into the suffragette movement (H/T to Denise Graveline’s the Eloquent Woman’s blog).

It’s very meta, but ever since I found out that the Hepburn referred to in Pankhurt’s “Freedom or Death” speech, and the Hepburn delivering the speech in the Woman of the Year is mother and daughter, that scene has had a certain feeling of historical authenticity to me. And I am even more annoyed with how badly the director treats it. And how sad that what she says in 1942 still rings true 70 years later…

But the writing in the scene is intelligent and challenging and inspiring. Much like Katharine Hepburn and the female political operatives you will be meeting here in the coming weeks.

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